Mon | Oct 22, 2018

UWI professor says Bain undermined his credibility on HIV/AIDS

Published:Wednesday | January 21, 2015 | 3:01 PM

Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

KINGSTON, Jamaica:

The Vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Professor E. Nigel Harris is now testifying in the lawsuit brought against the institution by Professor Brendan Bain over his dismissal.

Harris is the second witness called by the university in the case being heard by three judges of the Supreme Court.

Earlier today, Professor Peter Figueroa testified on behalf of the university that Bain undermined his credibility as an expert on HIV/AIDS with his testimony in Belize.

Bain provided a controversial 2012 expert report, which appeared to support the retention of anti-sodomy laws, which were being challenged in Belize by a gay man.

The UWI fired him last May, on the grounds that his constituents had lost confidence in his leadership of an HIV/AIDS organisation mandated to reach out to marginalised groups including homosexuals.

Bain is now suing the UWI for, among other things, breach of contract.

Professor Figueroa, a noted expert on HIV/AIDS, told the court this morning that there were deficiencies in Bain’s report relating to literature and evidence.

According to him, Bain did not address the negative stigma and discrimination regarding men who have sex men.

Meanwhile, Bain’s lawyer, Georgia Gibson Henlin, in her cross examination, suggested that there was no scientific evidence in Figueroa’s statement to support the arguments against Bain.

But Figueroa responded saying the lawyer for the UWI would not allow him.

The UWI’s lead counsel Hugh Small then told the court that the university was not challenging Bain’s right to give evidence.

Figueroa later agreed with Gibson Henlin that since April 2012, Bain has been recognised regionally and internationally for his work in HIV/AIDS.

However, he said currently there is a difficulty stemming from Bain’s expert testimony in Belize.

Justice Lennox Campbell, one of the judges hearing the case, asked “in what way was the credibility undermined, his approach to patients?”.

Figueroa responded “no”.

Figueroa argued that his primary concern was that in giving expert testimonies, “one draws on literature and evidence as much as possible and there were deficiencies in the report given by Bain in the Belize case."

The judge further asked Figueroa if he detected any change in Bain’s approach in training healthcare providers, to which the professor responded "no".

He also asked if there were fears that Bain’s patients would be put at great risks and Figueroa again said “no”.

Professor Figueroa also refuted suggestions that Bain’s testimony became public because of the UWI’s actions.


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